Singer Michael Feinstein alleged that his good friend, Liza Minnelli, was “sabotaged” at the Academy Awards by being seen onstage in a wheelchair.
While the shocking Slap-gate at this year’s Oscars ceremony became an endless talking point, some people chose to highlight the heartwarming moment shared onstage between presenters Liza Minnelli and Lady Gaga.
“You know how I love working with legends, and I’m honored to present the final award of the evening with a true show business legend,” Gaga said of Minnelli, who is the daughter of Judy Garland and director Vincente Minnelli.
Minnelli, who is 76-years-old, was brought out in a wheelchair and appeared out of sorts as she fumbled with her notes.
But, Gaga gently reassured the Cabaret actress by telling her, “I got you,” and helped her announce the nominees for Best Picture – which ultimately went to Coda.
It was a heartwarming reprieve following the controversial violent incident that night.
However, Michael Feinstein shed some light on the drama involving Minnelli that allegedly unfolded behind the scenes just moments before her entrance.
Speaking with The Jess Cagle Show on Sirius XM, Feinstein – a cabaret singer / pianist and a proponent of the Great American Songbook – claimed Minnelli requested a director’s chair to sit in while presenting at the Oscars due to back pain.
But at the last minute, the producers gave her a wheelchair.
According to Feinstein, “She was sabotaged.”
“That’s a terrible word to use, but she only agreed to appear on the Oscars if she would be in the director’s chair because she’s been having back trouble.”
You can watch the interview with Feinstein, here.
Feinstein went on to say Minnelli didn’t want fans to see her limping across the stage and have them worry about her.
But the resulting mayhem from earlier in the evening left scrambling producers. As Minnelli sat in the director’s chair backstage five minutes before going on, a stage manager informed her she had to sit in a wheelchair.
“Liza pleaded,” said Feinstein, who said he was with her at the time.
“She said, ‘No, I will not be seen in a wheelchair in front of everybody. I will not do this. I will refuse to do this’.”
The legendary actress and singer was given an ultimatum, which was either to sit in the wheelchair or “nothing.”
When Feinstein asked her what she wanted to do, Minnelli caved and reluctantly said, “I’ll do it.”
“And she was so shaken, that she was discombobulated. She was nervous and it made her look like she was out of it,” recalled Feinstein.
“She was just so shaken up … Can you imagine being forced to be seen by millions of people where you don’t want to be seen? That’s what happened to her.”
“She was very disappointed that that happened.”
Some social media users were skeptical of Feinstein’s claim and thought his use of the word “sabotage” was excessive.
Others had their suspicions confirmed.
Regardless of what may have happened moments before Minnelli and Gaga approached the stage, their heartwarming exchange as presenters made the lasting impression we all needed.